Alameda County excited to proceed with caution into orange tier

The anticipation of moving into the orange tier Tuesday had many Alameda County businesses preparing for reopening or expanding their capacity for customers.

California's orange tier allows for an easing of pandemic restrictions, allowing indoor services for theaters, bowling alleys, full capacity for retailers and a partial return to indoor offices for companies.

"We'll be cleaning and sanitizing every ball after every use," said Peter Hagin, assistant  manager at Earl Anthony's Dublin Bowl, "We've only been open for 11 days in the last year so we're just waiting for things to open back up."

Hagin says they're hoping to welcome guests April 1st, in time for the league play to resume for the spring.

Alameda County's COVID numbers trending in the right downward direction is welcome news.

"Very excited," said Precious J. Stroud, the owner of PJS Consultants, who has a small office in Jack London Square.

"We got sanitizing wipes, we've got gloves, disposable masks," said Stroud, who says she purchased an air purifier, a new computer for the streaming video conferences, and other necessary equipment with help from an Oakland African-American Chamber of Commerce grant.

Stroud and many other business owners are rethinking how and when to return to the office life.

"For us our client work will probably stay all virtual at least til the fall," said Stroud.

For working families during this pandemic, returning to work isn't just about offices reopening. Many have to consider whether their children are able to return to school. Others are worried about moving too quickly before enough people are vaccinated.

"We're being cautious and trying not to think things are going to return to normal too soon. We are following the science," said David Skinner, Managing Principal at the large Oakland law firm Meyers Nave.

"Herd immunity is theoretical but for a law firm, we need to make sure it's real before we allow everyone to come back," said Skinner.

East Bay Municipal Utilities District also says about 150 essential workers at the Oakland headquarters will continue coming in, but even with orange tier status, it could be summer before all 700 employees move back.

"Our employees are scheduled to continue tele-commuting until June 17th," Tracie Morales, an EBMUD spokeswoman.

One silver lining, Morales says, has been higher attendance at public meetings and sessions than pre-pandemic attendance.

"We're having greater levels of participation than we've seen," said Morales.

Some business owners worry about loosening restrictions too quickly or reopening to full capacity.

"I'm not entire comfortable with the idea of 100%," said Helen Dean, who owns the Toy Safari in Alameda. She says she'll keep her store at 50%.

"I feel a little better knowing that more people are vaccinated that are coming in here. Even the children seem to have gotten the idea of wearing the masks," said Dean.

At the Alameda Theatre, the plans are to place patrons at a distance, skipping every other row.

"We're really excited to have the theatre reopen. It's been over a year now that we've been closed," said Kyle Conner, owner of the Alameda Theatre.

Alameda County health officials say masks will still be required outside your home even if you've been vaccinated.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or